He's held many identities throughout his career as a hero and through many incarnations, but who is Moon Knight now? Marvel held its latest "Next Big Thing" press conference call Thursday afternoon, with writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Alex Maleev-a team that has previously collaborated on definitive runs on "Daredevil" and "Spider-Woman," as well as their creator-owned "Scarlet"-on hand to discuss the new May-debuting "Moon Knight" ongoing, along with Senior Vice President of Publishing Tom Brevoort and moderator James Viscardi. This page will update throughout the call as Bendis, Maleev, and Brevoort reveal new details.
"I looked at the history of Moon Knight and just thought, you know, if you just made his costume off-white, he'd be awesome," Bendis joked.
Commenting on the idea of "getting the band back together," Maleev said that he "wasn't aware the band broke up," with Bendis adding that "there hasn't been a month off" that the two haven't been working together since "Daredevil." "We've been working on 'Scarlet' and 'Moon Knight' for the entire year."
Bendis said that Joe Quesada approached him at a retreat and said simply, "You and Alex Maleev, Moon Knight." "Well that was an odd thing to say. Then I went back to my hotel and I couldn't stop thinking about Moon Knight-it was like I was hypnotized!"
The writer is taking an approach to the character as "a man who loves his personalities" and is looking for ways to have them work together. With his new role in the Secret Avengers, "wouldn't it be interesting if his psyche was more emboldened by this" and adapted the personalities of the Avengers, Bendis remarked.
"And wouldn't it be fun to see the criminals of the Marvel universe not know how to deal with this completely insane person who thinks he's Spider-Man one day, Wolverine the next?"
A slick and successful new personality producing a Hollywood take on "Legend of Konshu" will see Moon Knight come into a lot of money as he adopts LA as his home, where he will seek to stop the rise of a new West Coast Kingpin, Bendis said.
"And he always finds a way to make me draw Spider-Man!" Maleev said.
"Alex hates drawing Spider-Man, and he's going to draw Spider-Man whether he likes it or not," Bendis said.
Though he was offered the chance to give Moon Knight a facelift, Maleev said that he prefers Moon Knight's classic look. "I can't help myself," he said. "I'm not reinventing him, I'm just trying to make it look better. If you bring a car to my garage and ask me to pimp it, I probably won't-but I'll change your oil."
Maleev said that though he hasn't fully developed the series' version of LA yet, it will be distinctly different from the look of New York. Bendis added, "A thing like Moon Knight needs its own playground," especially for the multiple personality aspect to fully play out.
"Moon Knight is one of three books that are not the same thing, but have a similitarity in tone, style and approach," Brevoort said of other books coming up by A-list talent. "We're bannering them all under the banner 'Big Shots." After "Moon Knight," the other books will launch in June and July. "These are characters are not that obscure," Brevoort said. "Didn't I just ruin this by saying Matt [Fraction] is doing Rocket Raccoon and Ed [Brubaker]'s doing Rom Space Knight?" Bendis joked.
Maleev said that he's going back to an earlier style he used on "Daredevil," though he feels he's a better artist now. "I'm just going to draw the shit out of this book," he said. "[Bendis] writes for me and I draw for him-I have no fears about how this is going to turn out."
Brevoort said he enjoyed the pair's run on "Daredevil" for the unexpected situations it covered, such as Matt Murdock's reaction to his identity being exposed. "I love that it's this team working on a similar character," he said, noting that their take would be the heroes' personas "as perceived by Moon Knight, so it's even a little exaggerated."
"He doesn't have full control over his personalities, which is part of the fun," Bendis said. "Just because he wants Spider-Man or Wolverine to take over, doesn't mean that's what's going to happen." But "I'm much more interested in his character as a pro-active Avenger" than a depressive hero, Bendis added.
Continuing on the idea of the LA setting, Bendis said it's becoming "a new criminal playground" for Marvel villains, and other writers are taking him up on his suggestion to explore this territory, having their heroes visit if not relocate completely.
"If 'Daredevil' was a ten in how you define darkness, 'Moon Knight' is maybe an eight," Brevoort said of the tone of this series. "We're talking about the light and fun aspects of it, but this is Moon Knight."
"The level of Job-like hurdles these guys Matt Murdock through, I expect it will now be Marc Spector's turn," Brevoort added.
"The amount of Clorox he needs is astounding," Bendis joked.
"His Spider-Man personality is kind of interested in his Wolverine personality," Brevoort suggested regarding a potential conflict. Bendis said existing Moon Knight characters would also come into play.
Bendis said readers will "absolutely" see heroes' reactions to their Moon Knight doppelgangers. "How would you like to be Wolverine and read in the morning paper about something you allegedly did in LA?" Bendis said. "And how much has Steve Rogers authorized him to do, and how much comes from the Steve Rogers personality?"
"This will be light on the supernatural and horror," Bendis said, noting that he will focus on street-level crime for the time being. He also wondered "whether the Konshu stuff might have been holding him back from a wider audience."
There was a question about "how autobiographical this is for Mr. Bendis," which elicited some laughter. "I've finally found a platform to talk about my multiple personality disorder, and my devotion to the god of the moon Konshu," Bendis joked.
Another question focused on concerns over the depiction of multiple personality disorder. "I've studied it over the years, I've written Moon Knight in 'Ultimate Spider-Man,'" Bendis said. "You have to have it based in reality, even the silliest of stories," but it's important not to be over sensitive, he continued. "You don't want to have Peter Parker bitten by a radioactive spider, and then it offends people with radiation poisoning."
"You just try to forge ahead and be sensitive to the world's needs, but tell your story," Bendis concluded.
Brevoort began by speaking about Daredevil before Bendis interrupted to joke, "Wait a minute, he was blind? I might need a do-over."
"It's part of Marc Spector-all the good he does, all the bad he does, it's mixed up in that," Brevoort said of Moon Knight.
"I guarantee there are more upset that I'm not using Konshu," Bendis added. "They'll say I'm anti-Egypt, and that will be taken as my political statement on Egypt."
Asked what was the first thing that popped into their heads about "Moon Knight," both Bendis and Maleev said "Sienkiewicz." Bendis added that they are working with Bill Sienkiewicz on "Daredevil: End of Days." "With the deepest respect I have for him, I almost try to not look at his issues-I don't want to be influenced by them," Maleev said. "The books sitting on my desk right now are not Bill Sienkiewicz 'Moon Knight.'"
Bendis praised earlier takes on "Moon Knight," but said that the new series would be a fresh beginning. "Maybe that will make people curious about how he got this way," Bendis said, which may lead readers to pick up earlier runs.
"You're going to get a lot of cool villains, like Mr. Hyde, Thundra, Titania, but the mystery of the Kingpin of LA is a major Marvel villain," Bendis said, with Brevoort adding that this is a character Bendis has written before.
Brevoort added that "Moon Knight" #1 will be double-sized, "and not a short story with a reprint in the back." Bendis and Maleev's story will fill the space between the covers.
"Moon Knight" #1 arrives in May.